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Trail of Lights honored
Great Bend recognized as Kansas Treasure
new_deh_last weekend of city christmas pic.jpg
Pictured is the feature in Kansas Magazine highlighting Great Bend’s Trail of Lights which earned a Kansas Treasure honor. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend has long striven to be a Christmas destination, and a big part of that tradition is the Trail of Lights.

Recently, the citywide lighted display earned statewide recognition, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said. It was named by Kansas Magazine in its winter 2018 edition, as a Kansas Treasure for the citywide Christmas display.

The last time the city received this honor was in 2013 for the June Jaunt.

In the full-color, two-page spread, Great Bend is the first and most prominently listed Christmas city. The others are Wichita, Wakeeney, Beloit, Winfield and Topeka.

“I think that’s a really big kudos for us here in Great Bend,” she said. “It really is something we should be supper proud of. It’s a cool thing to drive through town. It’s a tradition for me since I was a little girl and I it is for many other people.”

Kansas Magazine is one of the more expensive publications the city advertises in, she said. “We don’t buy into every issue or every other issue, but was also great is that when I don’t buy ads, they also give me the chance to tell great about Great Bend.”

“I just want to say a special thanks to all the greeters and the people who have helped to volunteer this year,” she said. So far, excluding this past weekend, $2,093 in donations have been collected at the trail’s Brit Spaugh Park entrance.

“So, our greeters are working really hard to bring in money,” she said. “That goes back to Christmas light replacement.”  

Of course, it wouldn’t be possible without the Parks Department. “They work so hard to get those light displays up,” Hayes said. 

The Trail of Lights includes the “12 Days of Christmas” at Veterans Memorial Park, Christmas Nativity at 10th Street and K-96, “Wild Lights” at Brit Spaugh Park and Zoo, the Kilby Square lights in the Barton County Courthouse Square, and lights at the Great Bend Historical Society Museum and Village, south of the Arkansas River bridge at 85 South U.S. 281. 

City planning 2019 events


Even though the book is yet to close on the City of Great Bend’s 2018 Christmas celebration, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes is working of events for next year.

“We are already planning for 2019,” she said. 

As for the Fourth of July, donation letters to businesses have been mailed. “I am sure some business owners have gotten them already,” she said.

But, in addition, “we are asking if anybody wants to donate to the 2019 show,” she said. “If they have any extra money they would like to throw at the Forth of July show, we’d take it of course.”

Also, with the letters going out earlier, businesses and donors have more time to plan on helping with the cause. They are considering at changing things up in 2019.

“Last year, it was very difficult to get all the monies,” she said. So, the city is looking at other avenues such as putting donation cans and other options to take the burden off the business community.

Summer Street Stroll

“We had all the vendors come together,” Hayes said of Summer Street Stroll participants. The other coordinator is Janel Rose, public health educator at the Barton County Health Department, and she is retiring as of Friday, so it was a time to examine the weekly event.

They discussed the location to see if everyone was happy with the Courthouse Square and if there was anything they wanted to change. The only thing they are looking at is changing the time from 3:30-6 p.m. instead of the 4-7 p.m. “It puts them more in the heat of the summer hours, but they’re the ones who will be running it.” 

The Summer Street Stroll is a partnership between the city and the Barton County Health Department. It is the only sanctioned farmers market in town, which means all of the participants fill out forms and follow all of the guidelines for food sales and safety.   

It is also the only farmers market in the county that is a part of the Senior Nutrition Farmers Market Program. “This means there are certain senior citizens who can get free money, basically, to shop,” she said.

“That really is kind of economic boost for both seniors who possibly can afford the food or have access to fresh produce, and also for marketers,” she said. Barton County has two years left as pilot county as part of this program.

Further down the road 

Planning is also going on for the annual June Jaunt and Party in the Park. In addition, more details will be announced later about the national falconers convention coming to Great Bend in November.